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Nostalgic images of drive-in movie theaters
07.08.2016
10:15 am

Topics:
History
Movies
Pop Culture

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The giant stone ‘marquee’ on the first drive-in movie theater in Camden, New Jersey that opened on June 6th, 1933.
 
83-years ago this week (June 6th, 1933 specifically) the very first drive-in movie theater opened for business in Camden, New Jersey. Originally conceptualized and patented in 1933 by entrepreneur Richard Hollingshead who astutely recognized that despite the failing economy (the Great Depression was in full swing) people were still going to the movies and would cut back on basic necessities such as food for the opportunity to escape their bleak day-to-day existences in a dark theater for a few hours. Hollingshead’s outdoor theater cost only a quarter a car (plus 25 cents for each occupant) and the sound from the speakers broadcasting the films to the 400 car capacity lot were so loud that they could be heard miles down the road.
 

A print advertisement for Richard Hollingshead’s new drive-in theater in Camden, New Jersey.
 
According to a historical reference noted by the University of Michigan not everyone was happy about Hollingshead’s invention of the drive-in—and aparently a group of teenage girls actually took to protesting its creation as it put a big dent in the booming tween babysitting business since families were now bringing their infants, toddlers and young children along in the car to see the latest celluloid offerings from the comfort of their car. Drive-in theaters started to proliferate all over the country from Massachusetts to New Mexico and by 1942 there were 95 drive-ins with locations in 27 states. Ten years later there were approximately 5000 drive-in movie theaters in operation across the U.S. When the decade of spandex and neon otherwise known as the 80s rolled around drive-in theaters began their decline thanks to urban sprawl and technological advancements such as cable TV and the cheaper price of that in-home movie machine, the VCR.

These days (and according to an article published in 2014) there are still 338 drive-in theaters in operation including one of my favorite haunts in my younger days, the 67-year-old Weir’s Beach drive-in in New Hampshire. Tons of images of drive-ins from the past follow.
 

West Virginia, 1956.
 

A ‘carhop’ at the Rancho drive-in, San Francisco, 1948.
 
Many more after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Lick my boots: Vintage photos of women wearing kinky boots
07.01.2016
01:06 pm

Topics:
Fashion
History

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A few days ago I posted some vintage photographs of dominatrices in all their dominant glory. But what I really dug about those historical images was… the boots. Those incredible mile-high lace-up boots! I should probably be upfront and confess that I don’t actually know all that much about boot fetishism or boot worship and its history, but looking at the photos, I could easily see that boot fetishism went wayyyyy back. In fact, the first historical reference to boots as a fetish object dates back to Émile Zola’s novel Thérèse Raquin in 1868. I had no idea.

If you dig any of these vintage boots, I noticed that a lot of these are available to purchase on eBay. Sadly, most of the sizes are really small. Women had smaller feet back then, I guess. Still, I’m sure that you can find exact replicas or something similar in larger sizes if you look hard enough.


 

 

Nanette Rockwell
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Criminal Class: Surprisingly cool Aussie mugshots
07.01.2016
11:24 am

Topics:
Crime
History

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Herbert Ellis sits with his arms folded waiting for his photograph to be taken. He’s perched on a chair, back against a wall, legs apart, wearing a three-piece suit, a white shirt with stud collar, a knitted tie and a slick Fedora. Ellis could be a guest at a dinner party, the groom’s best man at a wedding, an actor on a film set, or a model showing off the latest cut for a fashion spread. He looks cool, almost smiling at some private joke, seemingly at ease with what’s going on all around him.

But looks can be deceptive. Ellis has just been yanked off the street by two cops. They arrested him in connection with a burglary. Ellis is a “suspected person.” He has a reputation as a housebreaker, a shop breaker, a safe breaker, and receiver of stolen goods. Herbert Ellis is a criminal. He’s having his mugshot taken at the Central Police Station, Sydney sometime around 1920. As soon as the cops pulled in a suspect they took their prints and flashed their photo against a wall. Most of the time, the arrestees did not pose according to the positions of the latest standardized mugshot. Instead they sat or stood, wore what they liked, kept their coats and hats on and even smiled at the camera. As Peter Doyle curator of the Justice and Police Museum, Sydney, Australia notes these men and women “recently plucked from the street, often still animated by the dramas surrounding their apprehension.”

Ellis had a string of petty convictions to his name including “goods in custody, indecent language, stealing, receiving and throwing a missile.” His MO was noted as:

...seldom engages in crime in company, but possessing a most villainous character, he influences associates to commit robberies, and he arranges for the disposal of the proceeds.

He was nicknamed “Curly” down to his thinning hair and “Deafy” as by the time this picture was taken he was stone deaf.

Most of the criminals photographed by the New South Wales Police Department between 1910 and 1930 were taken in the cells of the Central Police Station, Sydney. The mugshots documented the various men and women arrested on charges as diverse as theft, larceny, violence, or procuring an abortion. The photos look unlike most other standard mugshots and could easily be portraits of family, friends or actors on a set.
 
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B. Smith, Gertrude Thompson and Vera McDonald, Central Police Station, Sydney, 25 January 1928.

Special Photograph no. 1608. This photograph was apparently taken in the aftermath of a raid led by CIB Chief Bill Mackay - later to be Commissioner of Police - on a house at 74 Riley Street, ‘lower Darlinghurst’. Numerous charges were heard against the 15 men and women arrested. Lessee Joe Bezzina was charged with ‘being the keeper of a house frequented by reputed thieves’, and some of the others were charged with assault, and with ‘being found in a house frequented by reputed thieves’.

The prosecution cast the raid in heroic terms - the Chief of the CIB, desperately outnumbered, had struggled hand to hand in ‘a sweltering melee in one of the most notorious thieves’ kitchens in Sydney’. The defence, on the other hand, described ‘a quiet party, a few drinks, some singing ... violently interrupted by a squad of hostile, brawling police’ (Truth, 29 January 1928).

 
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Hampton Hirscham, Cornellius Joseph Keevil, William Thomas O’Brien and James O’Brien, 20 July 1921, Central Police Station, Sydney.

Special Photograph no. 446. The quartet pictured were arrested over a robbery at the home of bookmaker Reginald Catton, of Todman avenue, Kensington, on 21 April 1921. The Crown did not proceed against Thomas O’Brien but the other three were convicted, and received sentences of fifteen months each.

 
More Antipodean mugshots and arrest details, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Killers, crooks and vampires: Thrilling pages from Penny Dreadfuls
06.30.2016
11:46 am

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Amusing
Books
History

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The “penny dreadful” was the name given to an incredible publishing phenomenon that flourished in Victorian Britain between the mid-1830s and the early 1900s. The penny dreadful or “penny blood” was a luridly illustrated booklet or magazine—usually of some sixteen pages in length—filled with sensationalist tales of highwaymen, murderers, cannibals, bounders, vagabonds, vampires and thieves. 

The first known penny dreadful was published on Saturday April 30th, 1836 under the title The Lives of the Most Notorious Highwaymen, Footpads and Murderers. The cover featured a fight between a gang of ne’er-do-wells—led by Grimes Bolton, a notorious robber and cannibal—and a group of gamekeepers. The success of The Lives of the Most Notorious Highwaymen, Footpads and Murderers led to an unprecedented range of similar publications which reached their height around the mid-1860s.

Originally penny dreadfuls focussed on thrilling tales of adventure but through time these fell out of fashion as the audience demanded increasingly lurid stories. These magazines hit pay-dirt with tales of true crime (Jack the Ripper being the best known subject) and grotesque fantasies of such creations as the murderous Sweeney Todd—the Demon Barber of Fleet Street; the bloodthirsty Varney the Vampire or the demonic urban legend of Spring-Heeled Jack—The Terror of London.

The penny dreadful ushered in a new era of publishing—launching a whole range of magazines and periodicals that benefitted from new printing technology and from the markets opened up by the penny dreadful. Political and educational serial publications similarly benefitted from the pioneering work of penny dreadfuls. But it wasn’t all money-making business. Before the Education Act of 1870 introduced free education for all, the penny dreadful can take some credit for encouraging generations of young men and women to read.

As tastes changed, the penny dreadful dropped in popularity—the now literate audience wanted more nuanced and stimulating tales. However, the genres it launched (horror, detective and true-life crime) continued and flourished under writers like Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle and H. G. Wells.
 
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More pages from penny dreadfuls, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Photographs of Marilyn Monroe doing yoga
06.28.2016
10:51 am

Topics:
History

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Marilyn Monroe is putting my sad self to shame with her yoga poses shot back in 1948. She’s making it look easy here, but it’s actually not so easy if you’re a beginner. You have to work and gradually stretch yourself into these poses. It can take some time for your body to become this limber.

I’ve read that Marilyn Monroe was a devotee of yoga, but I’ve never seen that much photographic evidence for it. But here she is in all her yoga glory. And of course, looking stunning while posing.

From what I could find online, Indra Devi, who many consider to be the “The First Lady of Yoga,” claimed to have taught Monroe the life of yoga. But according to Wikipedia that seems to be untrue. There is zero proof the two women ever even met. Apparently there’s a popular photo of Indra Devi and Eva Gabor training together in 1960 and it’s often mistaken for Monroe.


 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Vintage photographs of dominatrixes
06.27.2016
11:41 am

Topics:
Fashion
History
Sex

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1968
 
Here’s a gallery of vintage photographs of women dressed in dominatrix gear. Not all of the women pictured were necessarily dominatrixes by trade, some were no doubt fetish models for BDSM-style magazines back in the day. I’m digging the costumes, hairstyles and… the boots. Just look at those kinky boots!

I tried to keep this as safe for work as possible. But, you know, it might be a tad NSFW-ish because of the topic.


 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Before Pere Ubu, there was the Robert Bensick Band—a Dangerous Minds premiere
06.22.2016
10:34 am

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History
Music

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All who’ve dipped their toes in even the shallow end of early punk lore know the famous trajectory of the early scene in Cleveland By God Ohio: first, there was the proto-punk band Rocket From the Tombs. They were weird and combative and completely out of step with normality, and it couldn’t last, so they split. That fissure produced that amazing yin and yang of Ur-punk—the bratty, gutterbound Dead Boys, who burned bright and flamed out fast; and the forbiddingly arty, brainy, and belligerent Pere Ubu, who still exist to weird out the normals today (they’re on tour right now, in fact).

But that’s only half of the story. Of the first lineup of Pere Ubu, only singer David Thomas and guitarist Peter Laughner were Rocket refugees, and Laughner, sadly, didn’t even live to play on Ubu’s debut album. Guitarist Tom Herman and drummer Scott Krauss came Ubu’s way from a now utterly obscure weirdo outfit called the Robert Bensick Band. Bensick was a veteran of a handful of bands that included various future Ubus and members of the under-documented Laughner band Cinderella Backstreet, and in the mid-‘70s he assembled from those sources a band of like-minded rock ’n’ roll misfits to record what he intended as a magnum opus, the never-released French Pictures in London.
 
Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Blow-out: Bizarre sci-fi looking vintage hair dryers from the early 1900s
06.20.2016
06:32 pm

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Amusing
History
Science/Tech

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A massive hair dryer from 1934.
 
Some of our readers will recall a time when it seemed like a good idea to strap a plastic bag to your head (when it was still wet mind you) then hook it up to a large device that would blow hot hair into said bag in order to dry your hair. Sometimes I really do believe it is a fucking miracle that more people born in decades preceding the 1970s didn’t die after putting hot plastic bags on their wet heads. Even as a kid back in the 70s I thought on more than one occasion that I was going to come out with a perfectly red ring around my skull after sitting under a soft-bonnet style hair dryer. But that never happened. Thanks, Mom!
 

A drawing of the first hair dryer invented by Alexandre Godefoy in 1888. 
 
Some of these space-aged looking contraptions date as far back as the early 1920s and could be found in public bath houses. In 1930, German hair care company Wella debuted a motorized dryer that looked like it was straight out of a scene from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (pictured directly below). Others are just too wacky for words but as a girl with long hair—I get it. Before the advent of the hair dryer women would dry their hair by a fire (yikes!) or just let it dry on its own. The first hair dryer originated in 1888 in a beauty salon in France owned by Alexandre Godefroy (pictured above) that attached to a pipe for a chimney or a gas stove and blew hot air through a giant alien-looking metal helmet. In the words of those Virginia Slim ads “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby” when it comes to hair maintenance. Lots of images of far-out looking hair dryers of yesteryear follow.
 

Wella’s first motorized hair dryer from 1930.
 

1920s.
 

 
More after the jump…

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At Home, At Work, At Play: Color Autochromes of life before the First World War
06.20.2016
12:16 pm

Topics:
Art
History

Tags:

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The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.

That well-known opening line from L. P. Hartley’s novel The Go-Between sits well with these Autochromes by artist and photographer Alfonse Van Besten (1865-1926) taken in the years leading up to the First World War. Looking at these beautiful idealized portraits of people working and playing in the tranquil Belgian countryside it is hard to imagine the bloody slaughter about to unfold on these “Flanders Fields.” They are like a glimpse of a man-made paradise before the Fall.

Van Besten was an early adopter of the Lumière brothers’ photographic process by which color was replicated through compressed pieces of dyed starch. His portraits are painterly—superbly composed and artfully created—with a sense of spectacle and drama. The majority of pictures show a wealthy middle and upper class at play—but as can be seen Van Besten was equally adept at capturing the working lives of the poor with a fine eye for detail and group composition.
 
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The artist and photographer Alfonse Van Besten painting in his garden circa 1910.
 
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‘Musing’—The photographer’s wife Josephine Arnz circa 1910.
 
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Men in civic and military clothes, ca. 1911.
 
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Children at play ca. 1912.
 
More Autochromes by Alfonse Van Besten, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
True tales of the original Bearded Lady and Dog-Faced Boy
06.17.2016
01:21 pm

Topics:
History

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We may not like to admit it, but we are fascinated by the physical anomalies that were once paraded around by circuses—people to which the term freak is almost always applied. The Eels and Phish have songs that play on the idea of the “Dog-Faced Boy.” (Neutral Milk Hotel trumps them by singing about a “Two-Headed Boy.”) Meanwhile, the Hives and Screaming Females have songs dealing with the “Bearded Lady.”  Tod Browning’s Freaks stands as one of the finest movies made in 1932, and not many books published in 1989 have dated any better than Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love. Bill Griffith’s Zippy the Pinhead is one of the most enduring figures to emerge from the underground comics explosion of the 1960s and early 1970s.

It’s difficult to think of the actual freak shows that proliferated in circuses around the turn of the 20th century and not suppose that it was all an arena for some vicious exploitation. But those assumptions may not be as well founded as you might think: The bulk of reports that we have from that era appear to indicate that headlining “freaks” were well compensated and also treated collegially by their coworkers, which makes sense when you realize that they were often the strongest audience draws the circus had to offer.

One of the most reliable of “freak” tropes is that of the Bearded Lady. The notion of a female with a noticeable beard goes back as far as the 14th century, most notably in the figure of Wilgefortis, who existed as a variation on the crucified Christ.

Annie Jones was born in Virginia in the summer after the close of the Civil War. Afflicted with no small degree of hirsutism (or some other genetic condition), she worked for P.T. Barnum’s traveling exhibition almost from the crib. As the nation’s most prominent Bearded Lady, Jones was a vocal spokesperson for the country’s “freaks,” a word she detested and fought hard to expunge from the circus trade.
 

 
When Jones was still a small child, there was a curious episode in which she was essentially kidnapped by man named Wicks who a “phrenologist”—that is, someone who believes that character traits can be gleaned by investigations into a person’s skull—who claimed that the child was his. Right out of a 19th-century melodrama, at the trial to adjudicate the matter, Jones ran into her mother’s arms, settling the matter once and for all.

Jones was also an accomplished musician. In 1902, she died of tuberculosis at the age of 37.

The affliction that caused Fedor Jeftichew to become a celebrity known as Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy is called hypertrichosis (sometimes called “werewolf syndrome”); the condition, which causes an abnormal amount of hair to grow all over the body, is apparently genetic, as his father shared the condition. Jeftichew was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1868, and became a part of Barnum’s troupe in as a teenager in 1884. One of Barnum’s nicknames for Jeftichew was “the human-skye terrier” because of the tendency of that breed to have straight long hair covering the eyes.

From whole cloth Barnum created a phantastical backstory for Jeftichew, now known as Jo-Jo. The idea was that a hunter from Kostroma in the heartland of Russia tracked Jeftichew and his father to their “cave” and captured them “after a desperate conflict.” Barnum spared no detail in describing Adrian as a savage who was beyond any kind of civilizing effects. (In reality Jeftichew spoke three languages fluently.) Barnum would tell audiences that when Jeftichew was upset, he was given to barking and growling; knowing where his interests lay, Jeftichew would then proceed to do just that for the gaping audience.

Jeftichew passed away of pneumonia in 1904 in Greece.
 

 
h/t: All That Is Interesting

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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